Supporting the work of the Royal Academy of Arts
When did you become a Royal Academician?
1995, it came as quite a surprise although I had been showing in the Summer Exhibition for a few years.
What were your views of the Royal Academy and the Friends prior to becoming a Royal Academician and how, if at all, have these opinions altered over the years?
The Royal Academy is a complicated organisation and like many people I was unsure about all the different bits and the parts they play in making things tick before I was elected. In 1995 it would be fair to say that the Academy was rather mysterious. It was run in a rather patrician way. What exactly happened with the finances, or how policy was decided was not at all clear as various financial scandals proved. In the years I have been an Academician there has been tremendous progress in making the Academy a sound well governed organisation and the successful place we know today. I became involved with the Friends early on and quickly realised its vital role in supporting the Academy.
How do you see your role within the Royal Academy and what do you think is the role of the Academicians as a whole?
I believe strongly that the Academy is for a whole range of people who share a passion for the visual arts. The Academicians are the trustees of the spirit of the place and the Friends and general public who come to us are part of the Academy. The people who work here are also passionate about the place and many have devoted large parts of their working lives to its success.
In what capacity and for how long have you served on the Friends Council?
I think I was asked to join the Council in 1998. I am very excited by the future plans for the Friends.
In what ways have you become involved with the Friends of the Royal Academy?
Through the Summer Exhibition I have met many of the Friends. Some have become collectors of my work. I have also been on the editorial board of the RA Magazine for many years which I enjoy. The Magazine is one of the most successful art magazines around today.
In your opinion, how important are the Friends to the Royal Academy?
The Friends are an essential part of the Academy. They are part of the family providing all kinds of support not just financial. The RA pioneered the idea of a Friends organisation which has subsequently been copied but never equalled by others.
Chris Orr RA, December 2009